Dreams of a run in the FA Cup are over for another year for Chichester in a case of history repeating itself when they lost 4-3 away to Binfield in the extra preliminary round.
Twelve months ago Arundel knocked City out of the Cup at Mill Road by the same margin. This time it was a Hellenic League club from the other side of Bracknell that did the damage at the first stage.
On a day when they struggled to adapt to their new system City were like the ball the match kicked off with at times – a little flat.
However, it was Miles Rutherford’s team who went ahead in the 14th minute thanks to a super finish from Dave Herbert that had goal written all over it the moment it left his boot – the striker’s fifth goal in three games.
Binfield were level five minutes later when Sean Moore equalizsed with a similar effort to Herbert’s – a well-struck shot that dipped under the bar out of Ant Ender’s reach.
The Moles forced a series of corners in a spell of intense pressure where City struggled to cope with Moore and his partner Danny Langford.
Ender had to remain sharp in this period denying Moore, then Ali Dickie and finally Brad Pagliaroli, who caught City out at the back only for Ender to get a strong glove on his attempt when one on one.
Heading towards half-time the Sussex side managed a few efforts of their own on the breakaway. Josh Clack had a shot charged down, Scott Jones glanced a couple of headers goalwards and George Way tried his luck from long distance.
Then in the 43rd minute Binfield scored. Joe Gritt won the ball off Rob Hutchings, fed it to Dickie for the full-back to pick out Pagliaroli who finished in style.
Chichester reorganised themselves at the break but their opponents started the second half as they’d ended the first and inside a minute a nice exchange between James Knight, Langford and Dickie set up the Binfield captain for an effort that wasn’t far off.
Chichester centre-backs Ellis Martin and Dan Hegarty carved out chances ... Martin’s long-range shot took a deflection just wide of the upright before Hegarty met the resulting corner with a header.
Ender kept his team in it with a spectacular treble of back-to-back saves from Binfield forwards at close range that left home supporters bemused that their team hadn’t gone 3-1 up.
And they might have rued these missed opportunities just after the hour when Martin picked himself up after being fouled on the edge of the box to curl a ‘worldy’ free-kick into the top corner. These have become something of a trademark for the City defender.
Chi were level for less than 60 seconds, Langford giving Ender no chance this time.
A frustrated City huffed and puffed but couldn’t get back into the game. Moore could have increased his side’s advantage in the 75th minute but blasted over after good work from Pagliaroli.
Knight did make it four on 79 minutes. Ender did well to block Langford’s effort but the loose ball sat up invitingly for the midfielder.
In the last minute Chichester were given a lifeline when Clack jinked past players in the box and found Jones for the simplest of tap-ins.
City couldn’t find another in the three minutes of time added on and had Hutchings red-carded for an off the ball incident.
Binfield will play Horndean in the next round.
After the FA Cup loss to Arundel last season, City lost only once in the league in six months. There’s a bit of history the club wouldn’t might repeating itself.
League action kicks off on Saturday away to Broadbridge Heath (3pm).
City: Ender, Jupp (Hartley, 45), Martin (Thoms, 82), Dolcetti (Kanjanda, 82), French, Hegarty, Clack, Way, Jones, Herbert, Hutchings.
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